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News Clips 13 January, 2016

[ Merchandise exports dip 14pc to $10.3bn ]
[ Export of readymade garments declines ]
[ APTMA for removal of TRS from industrial tariff ]
[ GSP Plus facility: ‘Exports to EU countries decreasing despite initial growth’ ]
[ Budget 2016-17: FBR decides to withdraw discriminatory SROs ]
[ Pakistan to display products at Heimtextil Frankfurt ]
Merchandise exports dip 14pc to $10.3bn   [ top ]

Daily Dawn, January 13, 2016
ISLAMABAD: Mercha¬ndise exports fell by 14.40 per cent in the first six months (July-December) of 2015-16 to $10.322 billion from $12.058bn in the same period last year. 

During December 2015, exports declined by 16.80pc to $1.788bn from $2.149bn in the same month last year, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data showed on Tuesday. 

Decline in exports was mainly attributed to the textile sector and other products like petroleum (naphtha and petroleum products), jewellery, leather products, engineering goods, furniture, cement and guar. 

Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir was not available for comments. Government has worked out a three-year Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2015-18. The draft was already approved by the prime minister, but awaiting federal cabinet approval. 

Meanwhile, imports also fell by 7.86pc to $22.246bn during July-December 2015-16 from $24.145bn in the same period last year. 

However, imports slightly increased by 0.23pc to $3.843bn during December 2015 from $3.834bn in the same month last year. 

The decline in import bill was mainly driven by lower oil prices in international market. 

The trade deficit contracted by 1.35pc to $11.924bn from $12.087bn in July-December 2014-15. In December 2015, trade deficit surged by 21.96pc year-on-year. 

Export of readymade garments declines   [ top ]

Business Recorder, January 13, 2016
Country's export volume of readymade garments scaled down by 5 percent to 11.808 million dozens in July-November 2015-16, official figures say. The garments export volume is lower by 0.558 million dozens in July-November 2014-15 from 12.366 million dozens, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics shows. Garments export value is, however, higher by 4 percent or $29.361 million to $847.910 million in July-November 2015-16 from $818.549 million in July-November 2014-15. 

In November 2015, the country's garments export posted just 1.24 percent growth or $2.05 million to $167.396 million from $165.346 million in November 2014. Export quantity of garments dipped by 5 percent or 0.114 million dozens to 2.233 million dozens in November 2015 from 2.347 million dozens in November 2014. 

APTMA for removal of TRS from industrial tariff   [ top ]

Business Recorder, January 13, 2016
Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Tariq Saud said, "We seek removal of the tariff rationalisation surcharge (TRS), while adjusting the Rs 3 per unit reduction in industrial tariff as textile industry cannot pass on system inefficiencies and line losses wrongly inflicted upon it in the name of tariff rationalisation surcharge." He has appealed Prime Minister to direct the Ministry of Water & Power for issuing a notification in this respect, as reduction in the industrial tariff is applicable from 1st January 2016. 

"The reduction of Rs 3 per cent unit from tariff rationalisation surcharge will enable the industry to book export orders without delay, as many textile millers are yet uncertain over the fate of tariff rationalisation surcharge," he added. Tariq said that only the prime minister can put an end to the ongoing indecisiveness by removing the tariff rationalisation surcharge from the industrial tariff. "A timely decision would enable the textile industry to deliver and materialise the prime minister's dream of industrial revolution in Pakistan," he added. 

He said the high cost of doing-business had created a hole in the viability of textile industry, particularly the large section dependent on electricity supply in Punjab, which was resulting into fast closure of textile units, steep fall in textile exports and the consequent rampant unemployment. 

Chairman APTMA hoped that reduction in industrial tariff by the prime minister would enable the textile industry to compete with immediate regional textile players through availability of level-playing field. "The present weighted average net of fuel price adjustment tariff for industry is Rs 12/kwh. Supply of electricity at tariff less than Rs 9 per unit would be a major step in restoring the industrial viability," he stressed. 

Supply of 60MMCFD RLNG: textile industry to be paid subsidy   [ top ]

Daily Times, January 13, 2016
KARACHI: Despite initial growth in exports to the European market after acquiring the GSP Plus facility to export duty free products, Pakistani exports have started declining to EU countries since last July owing to persistent appreciation of Pakistani currency against Euro, said former finance minister Dr Hafeez A Pasha on Monday.

According to Dr Pasha, Pakistani rupee’s depreciation is essential to increase the exports, which would also generate more employment and cause development of industries and exports. “There is a lot of profit in imports, but we must move from import-based economy toward production-based economy.”

He was speaking as keynote speaker at a multi-stakeholders’ consultation on “Two Years of GSP+ Status: A Stakeholders’ Review of the Conventions’ Implementation” organised by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) at Jahangir Siddique Auditorium at IBA City Campus, Karachi.

Pakistan had acquired the status of Generalized System of Preference Plus (GSP+) scheme to export its products to European markets without paying any duties.

Dr Pasha pointed out that the main competitor of Pakistani products in Europe is Turkey, which sells products to European markets due to its close proximity and close relationships with Europe but its currency has depreciated by 40% against Euro. “How can you sell your products in the European markets cheaper when you have kept your currency stronger,” he added.

He said that during the initial two years of the scheme, Pakistani exports to Europe increased by 21%, first year exports to Europe increased to 16%, but it remained dull at only 5% during the second year. “It has started declining since July 2015. Interestingly, despite increase in exports to Europe, the total exports of Pakistan did not increase during the two years,” he added.

Dr Pasha opposed privatisation of Pakistan International Airlines and said due to decrease in oil prices in the international market, PIA is now earning profits, adding that it was making losses from 2004-09 because of sharp increase in fuel prices.

He pointed out that Air India was also making losses, but Indian government has never talked about its privatisation, adding that the national carrier has a responsibility to continue its flights in far flung areas of the country even if it is making losses. “In case of the privatisation of PIA, all the loss-making remote routes like Gilgit and Gwadar would be closed down by the new private management,” he added.

He appreciated the struggle of the workers’ unions of PIA against privatisation of the national carrier, and said the excuse of excessive employment is uncalled for as the wage component in PIA is less as compared to employees in other international airlines.

Quoting Labour Force Survey, Dr Pasha said that some positive developments have occurred regarding workers’ situation in Pakistan. Overall unemployment rate has decreased to 5.9% against 6.2% previously. Similarly, he said the women participation in the employed has increased by three times.

Talking about participation of workers in the trade union movement in Pakistan, he said trade unions are in declining mode in Pakistan. Maximum 1 or 2% workers are registered in the trade unions, where as in India 37% workers are engaged in the trade unions, he added.

During the last two years, Dr Pasha said policy and legal framework exists and there is no need of introducing new laws, but implementation of the older laws. Treaty Implementation Cell has been established in the Prime Minister House. These types of cells are also established in the provinces as well.

Although there are some concerns regarding establishment of military courts and end of moratorium on death penalties among European countries, but they also understand that major challenge for Pakistan is terrorism. 

Budget 2016-17: FBR decides to withdraw discriminatory SROs   [ top ]

Business Recorder, January 12, 2016
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has decided to withdraw concessions/exemptions of income tax, sales tax and customs duty granted through statutory regulatory orders (SROs) amounting to 0.3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in budget (2016-17). Sources told Business Recorder here on Monday that the withdrawal of discriminatory SROs in budget 2016-17 will help to further rejuvenate economic activity especially by SMEs and reduce the cost of doing business in the country. 

The FBR during the financial year 2013-14 embarked on an exercise of review and rationalisation of concessionary regime. During the budget speech for financial year 2013-14, Finance Minister had highlighted the complexity of the tax system resulting from discriminatory exemptions and concessions. It was also emphasised that these exemptions result in enormous cost to the exchequer. Finance Minister stressed upon the need to provide level playing field to trade and industry by abolishing the culture of SROs. The Minister announced setting up a High Level Committee to be chaired by Chairman FBR for the purpose of reviewing the concessionary SROs. The mandate of the High Level Committee was review of existing concessionary regime for minimisation of exemptions; elimination of discriminatory exemptions and concessions; and simplification of tariff structure to provide level playing field for trade and industry. 

The Committee decided to adopt a phased approach for accomplishing the task. Accordingly during the Budget 2014-15. FBR was able to withdraw concessions of Rs 105 billion during the first phase and concessions amounting to Rs 108 billion were withdrawn during the second phase (during FY 2015-16). In the third and final phase to be completed through Budget 2016-17, the FBR has committed to withdraw concessions/exemptions amounting to 0.3% of GDP. 

Chairman FBR has desired that the preparatory exercise for the third phase may be taken up in right earnest as the meeting of the High level Committee is expected by the end of the next week. It has therefore been decided to hold an in-house meeting on 13th January 2013 in the Committee room on third floor of FBR house. Chairman FBR will chair the meeting and review the proposals regarding withdrawal of concessions/ exemptions relating to Customs duty, income tax, sales tax and federal excise duty, sources added. 

Pakistan to display products at Heimtextil Frankfurt   [ top ]

Business Recorder, January 10, 2016
Pakistan is taking part in Heimtextil, Frankfurt to introduce the best quality textile transformed into bed linens, upholstery, furniture fabric, household decorative covers, garments etc. Pakistanis will display their products in the 70 to 80 stalls. Syed Muhammad Aasim Shah Vice President of FPCCI/Chairman of All Pakistan Bedsheet and Upholstery Manufacturers Association (APBUMA) Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi of Mehmood Group of Industries, Suhail Khan Tareen, Zulfikar Ali Chaudhry Abdul Jabbar, Ajmal and Akmal, Abid Hussain on Saturday left for Germany to join textile fair to be held on January 12 to 15. 

Pakistani products had ever attracted the foreign buyers, said Aasim Shah. He said Heimtextil is the biggest international trade fair for home and contract textiles and the global benchmark for quality textiles of design and innovative functionality.